Bowel screening up and running again

The National Bowel Screening Programme is advising those who received test kits in the mail before or during lockdown, to complete and return their kits as soon as possible.

The programme – which is free for those aged 60-74 who are eligible for publicly funded health care – was paused during the COVID-19 response, but is now resuming regular activity.

Programme Manager for the Southern DHB, Emma Bell says the test kits have a six month expiry date, so it’s important that those already sent out are completed and returned soon.

Despite the pause in the distribution of invitations and test kits, results were processed throughout the lockdown, and those who returned positive results are now being offered colonoscopies.

The DHB is working to offer timely colonoscopies to everybody who returns a positive test result. Of these people, approximately 8% will have cancer.

The National Bowel Screening Programme is an excellent way to detect bowel cancer early. 

“We know sometimes people put off doing the test because they are scared of getting a positive result, but early diagnosis increases the chances of having straightforward and successful treatment,” says Emma Bell.

According to the Ministry of Health, those who receive early treatment have a 90% chance of long-term survival.

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Better Health South - Board Update June 2020